Yarrabah water treatment plant upgrades begin

28 July 2023

Works have commenced on the Yarrabah water treatment plant with funding support from the Queensland Government of $275,000.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr John Gerrard said it is safe for the broader community to continue consuming the town’s water supply provided taps used for drinking water were flushed daily.

“Testing of the Yarrabah town water supply has repeatedly shown that it complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and does not contain lead.”

The new pH control system has been installed and began operating on Tuesday 25 July.

The installation of a new chlorine analyser and the reservoir upgrade are progressing.

Acting Deputy Director-General for Water Resource Management Jarrod Cowley-Grimmond said the work was being carried out as quickly as possible and commended Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council.

“Our department has worked closely with Yarrabah ASC to help them with the ongoing delivery of safe, reliable drinking water to their community.

“We know that the Council is working hard to ensure that continues.

“We also know that recent testing has consistently revealed water from the water treatment plant complies with Australian Drinking Water Guidelines,” he said.

“Yarrabah’s approved Drinking Water Quality Management Plan identified a low risk of potential corrosion of metal piping due to the low pH of the raw water sourced from its bore field. Council had appropriate mitigations in place to address this low risk, including regular testing for heavy metals in water samples and plans to upgrade the water treatment plant, with $1.2 million committed by the state government for these upgrades.

“The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines do not have a health guideline value for pH however provides an aesthetic range of 6.5-8.5.

“While some samples of water from the Yarrabah supply scheme have been slightly below 6.5 pH the majority have tested within the guidelines.

“When a single sample from a tap, taken prior to flushing, returned elevated metal levels, the Council took immediate action with the support of Queensland Health and the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water.”

All potable drinking water schemes in Queensland are required to have an approved Drinking Water Quality Management Plan. These identify all potential risks to drinking water quality.

There are some communities in Queensland where their Drinking Water Quality Management Plans, as required under the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008, identifies the risk that can be posed by variable pH levels in water.

Where water service providers identify that risk, they must put in place appropriate management strategies to address that risk.

Tropical Public Health Services (TPHS) Director Dr Richard Gair said his team conducted more than 250 voluntary blood test results within Yarrabah, and only a small number of individuals returned elevated lead levels.

“Each person who has had an elevated lead reading, has had a clinical consultation and investigation by TPHS and there is no evidence that the consumable water is the cause of these results.

“There are environmental and health explanations that are likely contributors to these results.

“There have been no concerning findings from our water testing of over 50 domestic premises across the community.”

Dr Gair said the Health Service would continue to work closely with the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water and the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council.

Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council Mayor Ross Andrews said he expected the remaining water treatment plant works, which are larger works, will be completed within months.

“Next steps will be to install the chlorine analyser and if all goes smoothly, this will be operational by early August.

“This will be followed by the hydraulic valves for the reservoir upgrade, after the chlorine analyser is installed. If everything progresses smoothly, this will be fully operational by early September.”

Mr Cowley-Grimmond said the pH control system and the chlorine analyser will serve to stabilise the water chemistry and mitigate the risk of corrosion to plumbing and pipes in premises.


Contact DRDMW Media Unit:

E: media@rdmw.qld.gov.au
M: 0457 228 028

Last updated: 28 Jul 2023